‘I Don’t Have Constant Pain’ [Al Kurtenbach]

Video Transcript

I'm Al Kurtenbach. I'm retired. I've lived in Brookings most of my life. We moved here in 1962, and I taught at the university for about 10 years, and along with Duane and Phyllis Sander, and my wife, Irene and I, started Daktronics.

When did your knee pain start?

When I was going to the seventh grade, one of my jobs at that time was to check the cattle in the north pasture. I was in a hurry, and so I went over the top and the pony stepped in a hole, and we went down and my right leg was underneath. Unfortunately I was riding bareback, and that was the first time and that kind of healed up. And then as I went through life, I continued to re-injure it.

What were your symptoms?

It just kept deteriorating and I had more difficulty walking stairs. That was especially noticeable. I just thought I wanted to have a little more quality of life for the rest of my life and so I decided to check into getting it repaired.

Why did you choose Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery?

I heard there were some good surgeons here at Brookings medical, and so I decided to check into it and started talking to Dr. Mayer, and he recommended this. I'm an electrical engineer by training, and I was impressed with the way that the engineers, both mechanical and electrical, cooperated with orthopedic people to get that developed. I think it's just a great example of people cooperating and improving technology.

How does Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery work?

They take data first using a c-scan and map those characteristics of your bone structure into the macro unit and then that helps, the surgeon helps guide him to assist in doing a good job with the knee replacement.

Why did you choose surgery in Brookings?

First of all, it's close. I thought it was important to check and see what was available and how it was done. And so you could say I interviewed and I was pleased with the results, and so I decided to have it done right here. I was able to have visitors because I have children and grandchildren that live here in Brookings, and so they were able to pop in and see me, and yeah, you know, I appreciated that.

How did the staff treat you?

Well, the recovery went quite well. But then I continued with physical therapy, which actually I did at home. I knew I had to strengthen the muscles both above and below the knee, and actually I'd started working on that before surgery. It's been very successful. I can walk stairs. I can test it. I can carry my weight on my right leg, which I couldn't do before surgery.

How has surgery changed your day-to-day life?

Well, it's made my life much more pleasant. I don't have that constant pain when I'm trying to walk or even, you know, sitting. It would be problematic sometimes. It's just the comfort level and the mobility is so much better.

What were your recovery goals?

My wife just had her right knee replaced a month ago, and part of my goal was that we would be able to start dancing again. We enjoyed that a lot in our younger years. I don't know, we'll get back to jitterbugging, but we certainly can get back to waltzing and two-step.

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